Hart hoping England can emulate their cricketers

Goalkeeper Joe Hart during a training session at London Colney ahead of England's trip to Lithuania for their European Championship qualifier
Picture: PA 
Paul Hirst

JOE HART hopes he and his international team-mates can put on the same kind of displays as the England cricket team in their thrilling destruction of New Zealand. 

Like their footballing counterparts, faith in the English cricket team has taken something of a dip in the last couple of years, but on Tuesday, they beat New Zealand by 210 runs in a record-breaking one-day international win at Edgbaston. For a cricket lover such as Hart, watching England's bats men smash New Zealand around the park on their way to posting a total of 408 was a joy to behold 

"I'm a very keen England fan, pretty much like the football team, when they have ups and downs, I'm there with them," the Manchester City goalkeeper said. 

"I thought it was fantastic what happened the other night. Jos Buttler was phenomenal to watch, as was Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Adil Rashid. 

"I didn't get chance to see the bowling performance but, batting-wise, it was an exciting performance. Gone are the days of five days and boring cricket. It is wham-bam and the only way it won't finish is because of the weather." 

Fourty-eight hours earlier, English sport lovers were subjected to a very different contest as Hart and his team-mates played out one of the most dour goalless draws in recent memory. England mustered just three shots on target in their stalemate against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin. 

Former England international Paul Scholes described the friendly as a "waste of space" and ITV felt moved to apologise for broadcasting it. 

"It wasn't a thriller," Hart conceded. 

But with the Premier League season having finished two weeks earlier, Hart believes the friendly was necessary to help the players regain their match sharpness ahead of Sunday's Euro 2016 qualifier in Slovenia. 

He does not believe the poor performance against Ireland will be repeated on a regular basis. In fact, the stopper believes England have some of the most exciting players around in their ranks. 

"We have got some really young, fearless players," Hart said. 

"We are at that amazing stage where we put 11 players out and the 12, 13, 14 who play in the game are brought on to change it, they are not being brought on for any other reason - they are not lesser players. 

"We have got a squad of 23 players of equal ability and it is a real tough XI to get in to. We have got game changers in our team and we are working hard as a back five to lock it down and express ourselves." 

England's win over Slovenia last November was one of the best performances Roy Hodgson's team have put on in qualifying. Wayne Rooney marked his 100th England cap with a goal and Danny Welbeck bagged a brace as England came from behind to win 3-1 and keep their place at the top of their group. 

Hodgson's team beat Lithuania in March to maintain their 100 per cent record and they will move nine points clear at the top of Group E if they win in Ljubljana on Sunday. Hart hopes England will send out a statement to the rest of Europe by winning all 10 of their qualifiers. 

"We'd love to do that," said Hart, who has 51 England caps. 

"It would be good for the tournament and put us in a good place - we have won all the games so far, we have some tough games to go, Slovenia is definitely a tough game, they are one of the teams who can catch us in the group." 

All 23 players trained at Watford's training ground on Thursday. The squad will fly to Slovenia on Saturday before taking on the second-placed team in Group E at the Stadion Stozice 24 hours later. 


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